New Babies

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What a pleasant discovery in the pasture on this frosty Sunday morning.

Our goat Aretha had her babies last night–two strapping kids who are already romping around and nursing lustily.

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She’s the first of the does in this pasture to kid. From the looks of the others, they won’t be much longer.

The Dad (Abraham) wasn’t around to witness the arrival of his latest progeny. He’s in the other pasture helping assure another round of kidding in March and April.

We used to be more deliberate about timing the arrival of our kids. But a few years ago I decided to just let the buck run with the rest of the herd. I shuttle him between our two pastures every 3 months or so.

I know there are two different schools of thought on this. Some folks say that it is bad for the does to allow them to breed more than once a year. Other folks say that we should let nature take its course. Some say that from a purely profit-motivation, it’s better to produce 3 sets of kids every two years, rather than two. Others say that the does are stronger and therefore live longer if they only kid once a year, so that in the long run it’s more profitable to limit their breeding.

I didn’t make the change for any of those reasons. When we dedicated a paddock to raising pigs we no longer had it available for the buck, so that was part of my reasoning. I had another paddock we could have put him in, but it seemed to me at the time that it was somewhat unnatural to isolate him from the other goats (even though we always made sure he had company). So I just opened the gates and quit worrying about it.

I wasn’t so concerned about the health of the does at the time. I didn’t know that could be an issue. I was more concerned about the possibility that they’d all start kidding in February, a difficult time for all involved. That does happen sometimes.

I’m still unsure what’s best. For now I’m leaning toward going back to the old system, which also involves keeping the weaned does away from the Billy until they’re at least a year old.

If we make that change, it will be after this round of kidding. In the meantime, we’re enjoying having new babies on the farm.

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